tv Charlie Rose WHUT January 18, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EST
broadcast. we begin our coverage of the tragedy in haiti this evening with matt frei with bbc world news america. >> what you're seeing now is widespread looting and anarchy rampant in the streets of the city. with barely any policemen either local or foreign, u.n. soldiers or american solders in a position to do anything about it. >> rose: and we continue with katie couric, anchoring and managing editor of the cbs news. she is just back from haiti the this weekend. >> all over the area where we were people were running out of water, they were thirsty, they were hungry and yet i saw no no supplies the entire time i was there getting to some of these people. i know it's a logistical nightmare. i know breadth of this disaster unfathomable, but it just seemed... i was so frustrated and here i was, you know, an american there but to see that the response was taking so long
it was so frustrating. >> rose: and we conclude with an exclusive conversation with jeff zucker. he is the head of nbc universal television and the man responsible for the decisions about jay leno and conan o'brien. >> we think that jay, who was the ratings champ yo n late night for almost 15 yearsill go back to 11:35 and be successful. you know, what conan decides to do, obviously, is up to conan. and we don't wish him any ill will at all. he'll make a decision in his best interest but we've made a business decision in our best interest and that's really wt we're supposed to do. >> rose: coverage of haiti with matt frei of the bbc world news america and katie couric of the "cbs evening news" and then a look behind all of the doings at the "tonight show" with the nbc executives jeff zucker. next.
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>> rose: we continue tonight with haiti and the devastating earthquake. it's now six days since the quake struck the island nation at 4:30 on january 12. over the weekend, trapped people were still being pulled out of the rubble alive. the relief effort showed some signs of success as more than u.s. troops and urgently needed supplies arrive. u.n. peacekeepers were seen patrolling the streets of port-au-prince. u.s. lieutenant general ken keen who is leading the relief effort said today the damaged seaport could open for shipments in two or three days. earlier today, former president clinton arrived to meet with haitian survivors and leads. over the weekend, former president clinton and george w. bush, the former president, with tapped by president obama to lead the fund-raising effort and they appeared on several sunday talk shows. >> i talked to the major donor nations on the phone two days ago. they said they would speed up their commitment and stay involved. i had a meeting with 5 a non-governmental oanizations and wealthy investor who said they would do more.
if we keep doing our job and needle and nudge people and haitians do what they were doing before this happened, keep proving that they want to modernize the country, i believe we can get long-term commitment. >> yeah, i think it's important for the haitian government once this initial stage of the crisis passs is to explain a strategy that will mean the money will be well spent and a lot of people are going to be concerned about spending... it's one things to save lives. it going to be another thing to make sure the long-term development project has got a reasonable plan. it will make it much easier to track capital in the long-term. >> rose: thousands of haitians are becoming more desperate for food, water and medical attention and there have been reports of violence and looting. reporting now from port-au-prince is matt frei from bbc america, i'm pleased to have him on the broadcast.
what is it like on the ground and who are you talking to that gives you some sense of what might be happening in the next several days? >> well, charlie, the situation on the ground is grim, really grim, but it's also changing. i got here on thursday and the story was people left to their own meager resources. the general hospital with not a single doctor and single nurse visiting the patients who are literally dying in the open because the wards were full or too afraid to stay in the places that had cracks in the wall. the store story is there is some aid coming through but the vast majority is people are still waiting. >> but there's a kind of battle going on between patience and anger, between faith that some sort of help will arrive and despair that it will never come. so what you're seeing in the streets of haiti-- and, remember port-au-prince has always been a fairly poor city, i think the unemployment rate here before the earthquake was something like an astonishing 70%.
what you're seeing now is widespread looting and anarchy rampant in the streets of the city with barely any policemen, either u.n. soldiers or american soldiers in a position to do anything about it. so i went around the city this morning and i was there for three hours before heading back to the airport and i literally saw the entire business district what was the business district because it's now flattened seething with looting and in the middle of the looting you see armed gangs, sum with guns, mostly with machetes picking out their particular turf. if you steal the wrong thing from the wrong shop that's collapsed you'll get into trouble. two bodies on the ground with their hands tied. looters dealt with a summary justice that was pretty brutal. >> rose: is that going to change? >> it will change if and when the unit nations and especially americans decide to
use troops not just for doling out food and water and medicine but also security on the ground. the minute they see american soldiers on the streets of port-au-prince-- and it wouldn't be the first time, of course-- i think the bangs will hold back and the looting will stop. but the soldiers, especially the american ones, will have to use the right balance between saying we're here, we're providing security but we're not ing to inflame the situation. from what i've seen so far, that's exactly what the soldiers have been doing but they haven't been fully deployed. so we have to wait and see how that one pans out. >> rose: when you look at it today, what is the estimate of how many people will have died? >> you know, charlie the estimates are guesstimates and they're all over the place. the prime minister said 140,000, the local red cross said 50,000 plus. i don't know. i mean, i'm sure it's many, many thousands of people, many thousands still buried in the huge number of shops and buildings and apartment blocks that have collapsed. the bigger a building here, the
more likely it was to basically crumble like a pancake. many people who died because they weren't treated properly because there simply wasn't the kind of medical care that should have been here a few days earlier. so i think it will be horrendous. but can haiti frovr this? can all the money that's been collected by the intertional community actually go towards building some kind of viable state as bill clinton hopes it can? and thirdly will this not descend into some kind of all out anarchy and unrest which the country has seen on so many occasions before. >> rose: there is a plane going overhead so it's now gone, i think you can hear me. the former president was there today. what is he hoping to accomplish? >> well, i spoke to him at the airport at length and he's passionate about haiti. he came here as you may remember with hillary. in the '70s they had a friend who owned a hotel here and his
love affair with haiti dates back a long time. secondly, you know, he's the u.n. special envoy on haiti. he's collected a lot of money for haiti and he was saying just a few months ago that this country had finally come through after so many years of just messy political unrest was finally beginning to turn the corner and then this happens. so he's an optimist as far as haiti's concerned. he thinks this is an opportunity to reinvent this country from scratch and i said is there any realistic open of that happening and he said "yes, there is." so bill clinton the optimist, he will acknowledge that it is a mess, that the aid operation hasn't been the most well organized but he is... he's got faith in his own ability to try and intervene here with money, with important people, with help whether there is a connect between his rhetoric and what actually happens on the ground, whether the social foment allows for his ideas to come through and the ideas of many other people, that i'm afraid is a very open question. >> rose: is there any sense already that something could have been done in terms of
rescue and relief and whatever was necessary on the job earlier? >> having covered a few of these disasters i would say yes. here's the problem: whatever you get an international aid effort on the scale that this one is on with a scale of disaster like we've seen here, it's incredibly difficult to coordinate things. but when the u.n. has been hit by its own disaster, 100 plus people killed, and when you've got so many different agencies acting together in such a messy situation where there's no infrastructure, it's going to be extremely difficult so you've got to give them some slack. got to leave it there, charlie. >> rose: matt, thank you very much for joining us. this has been enormously helpful to our broadcast and i appreciate it very much. >> rose: joining me now is katie couric, anchor and managing editor of the cbs news. she was in port-au-prince for three days after the earthquake hit. here is a look at some of her
reporting. >> these are the faces of the haitian people: hungry, thirsty, and desperate. in tent cities like this one, they are trying their best to survive. this is a place where a truck provides a roof, a bus becomes a home, and amidst the filth, a beautiful dresser seems strangely out of place. this single pot of soup must be stretched to feed more than a dozen members of this family. this is running out, yes? and then what? >> nothing. >> frustration is reaching the boiling point. >> i remember with hurricane katrina when it happened, this right here is worse. >> reporter: there are more map masks, real and improvised because of the stench of bodies on the streets. they've run out of body bags and in this case metal sheeting had
to suffice. >> rose: i am pleased to have katie couric back at this table. welcome. >> nice to see you, charlie. >> rose: you covered a lot of stories. >> yeah. >> rose: tell me about this one. going down there, what you see, how is it different? how do you measure it in context of everything else? >> well, i think sheer level of devastation... i did not cover the tsunami. you know, i went to katrina probably five days that have had happened and some of the worst had ended there. but i was there on wednesday afternoon so very quickly we decided to galvanize our efforts and get down there and i think just the magnitude of the destruction is really hard to wrap your mind around. and then i think it's compounded by the lack of resources to do anything about the destruction. you know, in this country, if there's, god forbid, a terrible natural disaster or man-made one for that matter you have first responders who come flooding into the area. there were buildings that had been totally razed and just
devastated and nobody... and people inside those buildings and yet there was nobody there helping. except in cases where you'd have family members or fellow employees or ivate citizens who were digging through the rubble wh their hands. and i think that was just so shocking. you know, not only, as i said, the collapse of so many buildings, but the lack of personnel to do anything about it. >> rose: i think i heard on one of your reports that there was before the earthquake one doctor for every 10,000 people. >> i think it's two and a half doctors for every 10,000 people. can you imagine? i was just completely dumbfounded by that number, when you think about it. and then when you saw all the injured, that was another thing, charlie, that was so devastating. so many people who were so badly hurt getting absolutely no medical attention under... there were some who were under tents that had been erected by doctors
without border. well, they had the tent, they had the shade, they had no doctors or any medical personnel there to help them and this was friday morning, by the way, when i saw these people. they had been waiting for three days and nobody had come. and, you know, all over the area where we were people were runninout of water, they were thirsty, they were hungry, and yet i saw no supplies the entire time i was there getting to some of these people. i know it's a logistical nightmare, i know the breadth of this disaster unfathomable, but it just seems... it seemed... i was so frustrated and here i was you know, an american there. but to see that the response was taking so long, it was so frustrating. >> rose: and what's the explanation of the people in charge of the response when you ask that very question? >> well, i talked to a lot of guys from the air force on the tarmac before i left and i think you know, first of all, it's a very small airport and a small runway and they have all these different planes coming in and everyone thought their relief supplies were more important
than the other countries'. you know, you almost needed a diplomat to negotiate how the planes were landing. and so i think that initially was a problem and then i think when you get these big bureaucracies-- whether it's the u.n. and u.s.a.i.d.-- trying to coordinate t efforts, trying to get them on trucks, i just think it takes a while, i guess. but i'm mad that i just didn't throw all these boxes of water in our s.u.v. when we went to the airport and just handed them out myself, you know, in retrospect. but i thought well certainly there will be supplies momentarily. and yet everyday i waited and they didn't come. and, you know, i think there's a question of who's in charge. i read a story before i came over here, u.s.a.i.d. said the u.n. was in charge, the u.n. was saying the haitian government was in charge, the air force guy said they wanted to do air drops but the haitian government didn't want them to because of fear of rioting and violence, which you can understand, but they were telling me they could drop supplies in secure areas
and then notify haitian citizens where they were and they could go get it in some semblance of order. they didn't have the 82nd airborne there yet so security was a concern. but, you know, it just... it just seemed to be happening in slow motion to me. >> rose: when you look at the number of people that have already died, what are they doing with the bodies? >> well, there are mass graves and on "60 minutes" byron pitts had video of them, i guess, being just taken from the morgue in these... >> rose: for health reasons. >> and put in mass graves. they're still all over the streets. we drove through some back roads and they were probably tight ten bodies just kind of... it was so horrifying because you feel like... i mean, talk about no dignity in death, you know? and there was a hand kind of raised in the middle of this group of bodies because obviously rigor mortise had set in and i saw small bodies
covered up and you wonder... that's obviously a child. and they ran out of body bags and at one point i saw a dead body that had been wrapped up in metal sheeting and you know it's just horrifying. >> rose: there are also powerful stories of an individual, one person. and the story of the young 13-year-old boy. >> oh, my god, that was so... that was the... one of the most surreal experiences i have ever had. we went to this sort of tent hospital that had been set up by this organization called belgian first aid safety team, befast. they got therein there within 24 hours. they're dispatched instantaneously when there's an international disaster, all these anesthesiologists and nurses had set up shop and a lot of people were being comforted. they didn't have the equipment and supplies they needed to treat a lot of people with broken bones, et cetera.
and i saw this 13-year-old boy and i just went down to ask him his name. he was lying on a stretcher and they told me he'd broken his leg and had a head injury. and i just went to kind of talk to him and i said "where's your family? where's your dad?" and he said "mort." in french. and he spoke a combination of creole and english and then i said "what about your mom?" and our driver, sebastian, he was haitian, was translating and he said "dead." and then i was talking to him and suddenly he emitted this scream that was one of the most ear-piercing things i have ever heard and it just filled the whole tent with anguish and i blogged about this. i said it was as if the anguish of an entire country was emanating from his slight physique. and he kept saying "oh, the horror. why? why god? why me?" and it was so heart breaking. and he was grabbing me, charlie, you know?
and i wanted to make sure i wasn't being too intrusive, but heust needed someone to hold on to. he was in horrific pain, they were resetting his leg and, you know, as i was... and then he grabbed my neck to bring me closer and it was just so heart breaking to e this little boy. his name with pierre and i don't think i'll ever... i was very shaken up, actually, by the whole experience, as you can imagine. because i felt he was alone in the world and dealing with this and what was going to become of him. and i was so relieved because hi grandmother showed up as we were leaving and i thought thank god because seriously i wanted to swoop him up and take him home with me and just take care of him. but i can't tell you how many pierres there are in haiti. but just this 13-year-old boy, he just was... oh, my gosh. >> rose: let's take a look at this piece. >> reporter: pierre broke his leg and has a head injury. he reached out for my hand. we'll help you.
can you ask him where his family is? >> his father died. >> he's 13 years old. what about his mother? >> died. (screaming) >> breathe, breathe, breathe. squeeze my hand. (screaming) the "what a horror" he cried. "why, god, why is this happening to me?" (screaming) >> rose: do you hear that throughout as you walk around "why me? why us? why now?" >> not so much. you know, a lot of times it's just quiet. you know, people were sort of walking around the street... we were on a fairly business street at the citank building. are you talking about in the medical tents themselves? >> ros no, as you make your way around. are haitians saying "we're so poor, we have nothing, and now we have to live with this." and the other question i have,
which is adown that but different, is are they crying out "where is help? where is help? where is step? ". >> i think they are crying out that. there's not a lot of "why? why us?" i i heard personally. i think they are saying what's going on. i read a quote from a woman who was, i guess, in very bad shape outside her nursing home and who said "the u.n. is worthless, our government is worthless." you know, we're almost at the week-long point and they're saying what is going on? why is it taking so long to get step? >> rose: so many people wanting to do so much and not having the resourcestor facilities to be able to help. >> it's true and hopefully that's going to clang. but a lot of people... i think the partners in health... i was told something like 20,000 people who could have been saved, charlie, are diagnose everyday because they don't the medical supplies. >> rose: could have been saved if, in fact, resources arrived on time.
>> yeah. if they had surgery. if they had things to help them with their wounds. but they don't. >> rose: when will all the attention leave and what will happen to haiti? >> well, you know, i talked to some experts about that today and i hope that we'll continue to focus attention on haiti because as often, as you know, with an international crisis of this magnitude, the world focuses its attention on it for a finite period of time and then moves on to something el. but everyone i've talked to says that this is going to taken a extraordinary effort by the international community working in tandem with the haitian government which, by the way, most of the major ministries were destroyed so who knows how many government officials... >> rose: including the capital. >> yes, the palace was destroyed and the head of 2 u.n. effort in haiti was killed. so, i mean, working in tandem with the haitian government to really try to not only rebuild but almost restart this entire nation and i asked how long will that take and they said to keep
it on par with other countries in central america it will probably take a decade. but that's with a concerted effort with the international communities, you know, the whole world involved. and hopefully... i mean, haiti has such a tormented history, as you know, and tortured history that hopefully maybe we can give the people of haiti a chance as a result of this crisis and can help them in a way that they haven't been helped before. >> rose: when this kind of story breaks it is traditional in american media for the anchors to go there, to cover this story. >> uh-huh. >> rose: is that important. is it necessary? does it add to the impact of being able to tell the story? >> well, you know, i'm... i was a reporter for many years and i like to go out on the scene and cover the story. i think it sends a message to viewers that this is a really big, important story and we're throwing a lot of resources at it not only our anchor but a number of correspondents. so i think it probably adds to
the understanding of how... the gravity of the situation for our viewers. so, you know, i mean, hopefully i theme because i'm a good journalist and good at my job and they think that if i go there i'll get an important aspect of the story. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: great to see you. >> thanks. charlie. >> rose: jeff zucker is here. he is the president and c.e.o. of nbc universal. recently he has overseen the controversial rearrangement of nbc's late-night schedule after the jay leno show generated weak ratings in the 10:00 p.m. time slot, the network announced plans to move leno back to 11:3035. tonight show host conan o'brien issued a statement he would not accept the arrangement. according to the "new york times," nbc and o'brien are now in negotiations. i have known jeff zucker far long time, since he was the executive producer of the
"today" show, so i'm pleased that he comes to this television program at this time in which everybody is interested in what he has to say. and we will talk about many things, but we begin with the plight of nbc. welcome. >> thank you, charles lift thank you for having me. >> rose: here is the story line. you took over as nbc entertainment ned 2000 after being very successful is as the executive producer of nbc news. things have gone downhill for nbc and it's now in shambles. what is it you want to say about that experience? >> well, i think that's a little unfair to the fantastic folks who work at nbc and the fact is nbc entertainment has had a rough run the last five years. no question about it. we haven't done well enough. but i think the idea that the feathers on the nbc peaco are are falling off is really not fair to the folks at nbc news who continue to be just the best
in the business in every respect. the folks at nbc sports who continue to be the best in the business are four weeks away from bringing us the vancouver olympics. unfair to the folks at nbc entertain who want are working hard bringing us great shows like the office and 30 rock and "saturday night live." having said that, we need to be straight that nbc entertainment in prime time over the last five years has not done well enough. and we have to do better and we have to find bigger, broader, better shows. and the truth is that really has defined nbc and nbc universal and has now and i think that's what's so unfortunate about the... for for 30,000 employees who work at nbc universal, for the folks in our cable division, in our film division, in our theme parks division, the folks at nbc news and nbc sports, the fact that our failure to do better at nbc entertainment has unfortunately defined us. i always they nbc entertainment
is responsible for 5% of our bottom line and 95% of our perception. and right now that's about 105% of our perception. and so, you know, that's what i would say about where nbc is and what's happened to nbc. >> rose: as part and parcel of that you made a decision some time ago, maybe five years ago or sin which you took jay leno and said to him "five years from now, we're going to have signed a contract with conan o'brien to become the "tonight show" host." >> right. >> rose: that was a mistake or not? >> no, i don't think so. that happened in 2004. and i think what that allowed us to do was that kept our late night franchise of jay and conan intact for five and a half additional years, which gave us great success over those five and a half years. it kept conan from leaving for a competitor at that point. it allowed us to continue to
enjoy great success both creatively and financially for the next five and a half years. so i think actually that was the right decision at that time and i have no regrets about that. >> rose: okay. let me make two things. number one e. coli unanimous o'brien would have left at that time if you had not been able to guarantee him the "tonight show." >> correct. >> rose: he would have been gone? >> correct. >> rose: and you feared he would have done what? >> we don't know exactly but he would have left and at that time conan was somebody who was a homegrown star who w had put on television who was continuing to grow and he would have gone to a competitor at that point and, you ow, obviously we wanted to keep our lineup intact. >> rose: so you would have had a loss at your own place at 12:30. >> and helped somebody else out. >> rose: at 11:30. >> exactly. so i think one of the things we've been able to do both at nbc news and nbc entertainment over the years is we've been able to develop a tremendous
bench of talent. we have that on the nbc side and all of our cable properties. in... at nbc entertainment especially in late night through all of our programs, "saturday night live." we have a tremendous bench of talent. and that was part of it. >> rose: one idea that if conan o'brien leaves, as he said he cannot accept the "tonight show" that is not fronl 11:30 to 12:30 because it would destroy that thing that he loves so much, that's his argument, we'll come back to that, but the idea is now that jay is coming back to 11:30. and it's going to be a half hour show. will you now make jay from 11:30 to 12:30 or will you make jay from 11:30 to 12:00 and then jimmy fallon will come in from 12:00 to 1:00? >> the idea is that if conan can't stay, what we did we asked conan to move his show back to 12:05, as you pointed out. if he appears not to be comfortable with that... >> rose: well, he's already said he's not comfortable with it. >> if he moves on obviously if
that happens obviously jay would be on at 11:30 for an hour and jimmy would follow him for an hour. >> rose: so it would not be a half hour jay leno? >> not in that case, no. >> rose: there are negotiations now going on and as we tape this program for tonight it's 5:10. we don't know where those negotiations stand. but what are the parameters of the conversation here? >> well, look, obviously i'm not going to get into the details of the conversation. >> rose: i didn't say details, i said parameters. >> (laughs) well, the parameters are also tough. but, look, obviously... as i said, conan has said that he doesn't want his show to be on at 12:05 and if he can't be on at 11:35, a half hour difference, that he can't accept and he's going to move on. we're in those conversations to release him and he'll leave and we'll have the lineup that you just talked about. >> rose: here's an interesting legal point, you can tell me yes or no. in the contract with him, the tonight show defined as being
from 11:30 to 12:30 or not? >> in the current... in conan's current contract the "tonight show"... there's no guarantee of time slot for the "tonight show." >> rose: so now the discussion is about money. >> well, i think now the discussion is about not... conan has said he can't do 12:05 and he would prefer to leave. given that we don't have another alternative. it's unfortunate, by the way, i wish that conan had found a way to stay and do 12:05, that's what we wanted them to do. a half hour later than he was on now. but, you know, conan's... conas program on nbc for the last 17 years has been one of great comedy and great innovation and i think that at 12:05 it would have succeeded. >> rose: here's what he says, as you well know. "i didn't start fast, i started slow and i built.
i didn't have a chance to build the tonight show with conan o'brien at 11:35. secondly, you saddled me with a terrible lead in as you did local news around the country." does she a point? >> look, we believe that it was pretty clear that, you know, as we looked at it from a business decision, the thing to do here in moving jay out of 10:00 was we had the ratings champ in late night for the last 14 years in jay leno there. we thought that, looked at the m and its performance, it had not done as well as we had hoped it would do. and obviously we thought about whether or not that would change over time. >> rose: and you hadn't made a decision that it wouldn't, evidently. >> well, we thought that jay would be a broader program at
11:35 and we thought that conan would have a greater chance for success at 12:05 behind jay's program. sometimes you don't know these things until you try them. >> rose: right. >> which is what we did. we tried it. it wasn't as successful as we wanted. >> rose: conan? >> conan was not as successful at 11:35 as we had expected it would be. even before jay went on and conan had gone on last june it just was not as broad and successful as we had hoped it would be. which is not to say that it couldn't find an audience over time, we thought it would find a bigger audience and... at 12:05 with a better lead-in from jay at 11:35. >> rose: are you worried he may go somewhere and compete with you because jay may have been wounded in all of this and conan will find a new life and be much more... and be a thorn in your side? >> well, look, obviously we made a business decision here. and so we believe we've made the
right business decision. we think that jay, who was the ratings champ in late night for almost 15 years will go back to 11:35 and be successful. you know, wh conan decides to do, obviously, is up to conan and we don't wish him any ill will at all. he'll make a decision that's in his best interest, but we've made a business decision that's in our best interest and this's really what we're supposed to do. we're supposed to make hard business decisions without any personal feelings that... and that's what we're supposed to do and that's what we've done here. >> rose: did jay leno accept willingly the contract that said after five years conan will take over the "tonight show"? or was he angry about it at the time? >> no, he wasn't angry about it. at that point if you go back to
2004 jay understood it and accepted it and he was part of that decision. >> rose: but he seemed to grow over the five years or whatever it was more and more unhappy with the fact that that reality was about to happen to him. >> look, the fact is that jay continued to b incredibly successful at 11:35 and, you know, in an ideal world he obviously would have liked to have stayed in that role. >> rose: david letterman famously said i think a "rolling stone" interview "how could they be so stupid to take this man who has been a ratings champ for 15 years beating me, why would they ever take him off the air? why would they ever do that? >> well, look, you know obviously none of these decisions are easy. we made a commitment at the time to put conan into thelot. we wanted to honor that commitment. but at the same time we didn't want to lose jay and that's why... that's one of the reasons that we looked at putting jay on
at 10:00, which you said we'll talk about. so we tried to keep both of our talented in house... >> rose: but that was a failure. >> well, the move of jay to 10:00 ultimately didn't work. >> rose: move to conan to 11:30 didn't work! >> ultimately the decisions of each of those moves did not pan out. >> rose: so it was a mistake to make that decision? >> welsh obviously... >> rose: with the benefit of 20/20 high side? >> i was going to say. obviously in hind site perfect information leads you that conclusion that it was a mistake. and i think it's the sign of a leader to step up and say, you know, when something's not working to have the guts to reverse it. and the worse thing you can do is to let that mistake linger and that's what we've tried to do here. we tried to correct something that didn't work. we're not in denial about that.
we're not burying our heads. leadership about taking chances and taking risks and leadership is about acknowledging when they don't work. >> rose: so you made this decision. you bring conan at 11:30, jay moves out and you look for a place and you say "i've got a problem in prime time, we're not doing as well, we no longer have "e.r.," "friends" or all the things that made us the ratings champ. and beyond that, prime time programming has become very expensive and we can put jay leno in at 10:00 and it will be much cheaper per episode and secondly it may change the face of television. "time" magazine "jay leno is the future of television. seriously." you believed this would work. >> well, listen, we wouldn't do it if we didn't think it would work. >> rose: but my better question is why did you believe it would work? >> look, obviously you laid out of a lot of fact there is about why we ultimately made the decision to put jay at 10:00.
there were a lot of reasons that we looked at the 10:00 time period in broadcast television and made a decision both from a... an evolutionary position in television and television in the way people were watching kale television, the way people were recording the programs on at 10:00 and watching them on their d.v.r.-- digital video recorder-- the alternatives people had to watch at 10:00, we thought this would be an alternative for them and would be a way for us also to think about being smarter about the way we sent our resources in prime time television. it turns out we made miscalculations with regard to that. >> rose: why didn't it work? >> you know, look, ultimately it did what we thought it would do on the broadcast. >> rose: because you never promised ratings you said it would be cost effective. >> it did exactly what we thought it would do on the broadcast network. on the other hand, it didn't do
well enough for the local affiliates to their lead in in the local news. so we won't sit here and split hairs and say it worked in the network, it didn't work for the station. at the end of the day, it di't work for our affiliates. >> rose: so the pressure from them on you was immense. >> it was. >> rose: saying get rid of this. >> or they would preempt it so we had to make a decision. and that's what led to the events of the last ten days. >> rose: you made a business decision b you said we're better off than eliminating leno at 10:00, we believe he'll be better at 11:30 than conan says so let's move in that direction. >> that was the thought process that went into this and obviously we would have liked for conan to have stayed and done the show at 12:05. ultimately he couldn't get his head around that and that was his decision. obviously when we talked to jay
it wasn't perfect for jay, he was going to do a half hour. it wasn'tñi perfect for jimmy fallon, he was going to move back to 1:00 a.m. it wasn't perfect for any of them and we didn't have all the time and room to make everybody happy. we thought we had come up with a solution that we thought would work, conan wasn't happy with it. so that's why we are where we are. >> rose: you thought he would take the deal, didn't you? >> well, we hoped that he would. we hoped he would. >> rose: because you're not sure that the options are out there and because you thought he would be better off with a 30-minute delay? >> we thought ultimately this would... this would give him a stronger lead-in from jay at 11:35 and we thought ultimately it would give conan more flexibility to do the show that he's most comfortable with. at the end of the day if he couldn't accept his show being on 30 minutes later, that was his prerogative and his right.
and so be it. >> rose: tell me how you think you've been characterized. i mean, you have been delight in the hot glare. tell me about it. >> look, obviously it's been unfortunate. >> rose: these are kind words. it's been more than unfortunate. it's been... >> no. charlie, a little perspective here as well. you just had on someone who we both know well who i grew up with the business in katie couric in the previous half hour where you talked about haiti. so a little perspective on what's really... the magnitude of what's important here. what you were talking about there was very important. people calling me names in the big scheme of things and people delivering death threats over a program moving back a half hour is really incredibly out of context when you think about what you were just talking about. >> rose: death threats over moving the program back? >> yeah! it's been crazy. but that's okay.
you asked me how i feel about how i've been characterized. look, you know, i feel terribly that conan isn't going to be at nbc where he was given a chance 17 years ago and was a home-grown star. and ultimately it will end this way. i don't feel good about that, obviously. but at the end of the day, we made a business decision and that's what i'm supposed to make. how do i feel about it and about myself? look, you know, i'm..., i'm a big enough boy to know that i have to accept responsibility when things don't work. go back and said, you know, i'm happy to step up and take responsibility for things that don't work. not everything is going to work. if we don't try and do things differently, if we don't try and take chances, then status quo, we know what the result is of the status quo. but we've got to try to do things differently. sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
i think that some of the characterizations of the last week have been incredibly unfortunate. >> rose: which ones? >> well, you know, look, none of this is personal, none of this is personal. the decisions we made here were a business decision. we're talking about a program... we're talking about moving a program back a half hour, a program that was not making money for us at nbc. but the amount of scorn that has been put on this is really... is just completely out of whack to the degree of what real really is important here. >> rose: you obviously is the confidence of the people who you report to because some people say anybody... you know, they say the following things: jeff is a brilliant tactician and not a great strategist. he came to the job without an understanding of hollywood but an understanding of news and the "today" show and therefore when you look at those mistakes and you look at this mistake, accountability and responsibility might have suggested they needed a new man
as head of nbc universal. >> well, look, i will tell you that, again, i think some context is important. there i'm very proud of the job we've done at nbc universal in the three years that i've been in the role and if you look at the scope of what we're talking about here, again, nbc entertainment is a tiny piece of the overall company. we've had great success in most parts of the company. i think we've... >> rose: except network television. >> except network entertainment television. right. >> rose: which has often been the identifying... >> agree. and that's why. and i understand that. and i understand that's why there's so much angst over this. and i get that. and, frankly, we need to do a better job. and i want to do a better job. we've got a new management team in place at nbc entertainment. i think they've got the resources they need do a better job, i think they've got the right people in place to do a
better job and i'm hopeful that in the coming months and the coming year we'll do better. the only way that we get this behind us is if we do better. we've just got to do bert. it's the only way to get this behind us. >> rose: but at some point if you don't do better than somebody ought to say "well, i should turn this over to someone else and somebody else ought to have their hand at it." >> well, look, that obviously is for others to decide. but i'm very comfortable with the job that my... i that i and my management team have done over the last three years. >> rose: what is amazing about this-- and maybe not so-- is the way the public is so galvanized by this or the way the media has made the public so galvanized by this. including all of the participants. roll tape. here's what they're saying on late-night t.v. >> i didn't think that the programming changes at nbc would mean very much outside of our country. i thought this was just a story for america. i was wrong. incredible coverage around the world.
take a look. (laughter) >> actually t tonight show with conan o'brien's ratings have gone up. they've gone up. so you're welcome! (applause) >> so now nbc is really, really up against it trying to come up with new shows to replace the other ones that are gone now and look what they've come up with so far. i think you'll like this one ( >> in the television industry there are two types of talk show hosts, jay leno and those who have been victimized by jay leno. these are their stories.
(laughter) >> rose: lafsz lafs there you go huh? >> it's all very funny. and we've provided a number of laughs for late-night television. i think at some point obviously this story passes on and we'll turn our attention to whatever comes up next. >> rose: it took tiger off the front page of the tabloids, didn't it? >> (laughs) look, i think we do live in that kind of society where we move from story to story. obviously we're in the center of it right now and that will come to an end soon and i think it comes back to, again, charlie, we do a better job, we do better at 11:35 than we've been doing. better at 10:00 than we've been doing. better at prime time than we've been doing. that's what we've got to do. >> rose: tell me what's in your d.n.a. about this. you've taken executives who did not necessarily have network
experience and made them head of entertainment. didn't work out. you did the conan thing. didn't quite work out. you seem to be a guy who's ready to take a risk and live by the choices. and if the choices are wrong, say "i'm sorry. screwed up, we're going to make it better." >> look, i'm a believer in rolling the dice, in taking chances, not taking stupid chances, taking chances that have some degree of possibility of success. they don't all work out. nothing tried; nothing gained. we have to... if we're goingo improve, if we're going to get better, if we're going to succeed, you have to take chances. and you also have to then stand up and say "ts one worked, this one didn't work." they don't all work. you know, bill belichick went
for it on fourth down on his own 25-yard line and it didn't work. if he makes that one yard, he's a geus. >> rose: right. >> if he doesn't, the scorn of all the fans comes down on him. but it doesn't make him less of a great coach. >> rose: and hs still the coach of the patriots. >> and it doesn't make him any less of a great coach. i think we live in a society today where we have a lot of instant judgments. where we have a lot of anonymous attacks. and, you know, this is the world we live in. nobody should cry for anybody here. we're talking about a lot of very wealthy people who are making jokes in late night who will all be fine. what really matters at the end of the day is what you were talking to katie about in the previous half hour. everybody here will be fine and life will go on and the worst thing to come out of this would be is if the lesson is don't take a chance. if we don't take some calculated
risks, then i think that would be a terrible mistake to come out of this. >> rose: another lesson this also ought to be, these people who were out there, jay and conan, they live by how there was made... a judgment was made of their performance and judgments everyday ought to be made about performance. you size up the assets... >> at the end of the day. the viewers voted. the viewers voted on what happened at 10:00 and the viewers voted on what happened at 11:35 and ultimately it's left to us to make a business decision. and that's what we've done. this is up to the viewers. >> rose: let me take the business decision one step further here. there's been much talk about how nbc has been very successful because of acquisitions it's made in building up its cable state. you've now got a merger likely to take place which comcast will have 51% of which brings more cable assets together on both sides, on the content side as well as the distribution side. where do you see the future?
and where is network television going to be in that future? >> well, look, i think obviously when you think about nbc universal today the core of the company's profits and cash flow is in our cable networks and the job our cable network has done has been tremendous, tremendous. i regret this overshadows the success they've had. as you pointed out nbc and nbc entertain system a tiny piece of the portfolio but yet it's such an important symbol. that's why we need to do better. where are we going? what does the next five years look like? it's an incredibly exciting time for our media company to have comcast come in and take a majority ownership stake in this new company being created. i think nbc universal will be stronger going forward and that's great. but i do think as we look forward i think network television will continue to be important. i actually thinkthat the possibilities for network television in the next few years play be even greater than
they've been in the last few years and that's another reason... >> rose: why is that? >> because i think what we've said all along is that the economics of network television haven't been right. that the economics of cable television have been stronger than network television. i think we now... >> rose: because they have two streams of revenue? >> two revenue streams. i think we're now in an era where we may be able to get an additional revenue stream from discreet payments of fees to the broadcast networks just the way the cable networks get them. if that's the case, that will change network xhikts and that will be quite good. so i think future and the viability of broadcast network television actually may be better today than it's been in the last few years. >> rose: because if networks got paid more than they... >> the networks may get a second revenue stream, yes. on top of that obviously the digital revolution that you and i have talked about at the table many times in the past is still here and as we continue to think that through, that will only be better for the viewer and the consumer as more choices become
available in ways they can consume our great content and that's what i think will bring us. >> rose: here's what i hear from you in suming this up. they hed me to make decisions and they hires me to take risks. because you can't sit on your laurels, especially in television. and in prime time television because programs grow and you have to find new programs. so you take a risk and make your choices and then you asses your choices in decisions made by the audience and then if you have made mistakes you've got to correct those mistakes. >> i think that's right. the only thing that i would add to that is i don't want anybody to think that i believe that we've done a good enough job in finding the right programs. and the biggest thing that we can do going forward is we've got to find bigger and better and broader programs that will make nbc stronger. i agree with the way you characterized the situation but
nobody should... nobody should pretend that at the end of the days this about producing great programs and that's what we haven't done well enough and that's what we need do. >> rose: and do you know why you haven't? >> look, i think that there's a degree of having the right people in place. there's a degree of serendipity involved, there's a degree of timing involved. i think all of that has to come together. it's very hard. it's a very hard process. you know, for a long time, nbc was incredibly strong and was on top. this has been our turn in the barrel where we haven't done well enough and now it's our turn to turn that around. >> rose: to find prime time programming that will work. >> we've got to do it. >> rose: the history of prime time programs is networks can be second or third or fourth and if they can find a couple of big win we ares-- as it was with "the cosby show" as it was with "mary tyler moore" as it was with "e.r." as it was with "seinfeld" then you can be back on top. as it was not with leno
>> look, it's easy to say you're only two hits away. >> rose: yeah. >> because those two hits are incredibly hard to find. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> charlie, thanks for having me. i always enjoy being here. >> rose: jeff zucker, he has been in the hot glare of the discussion, conversation, comedy about decisions that he participated in with his colleagues at nbc. the story continues and we will hear more later, i assume, about decisions and negotiations with conan o'brien. thank you for joining us. see you next time.